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Supporters of Ersin Tatar celebrate after he won the presidential election in the northern part of Nicosia Supporters of Ersin Tatar celebrate after he won the presidential election in the northern part of Nicosia  (AFP or licensors)

Erdogan ally wins leadership vote in breakaway Cyprus enclave

Ersin Tatar, a nationalist who seeks stronger ties with Turkey, has won the leadership elections in breakaway northern Cyprus.

By Nathan Morley in Nicosia

Turkish Cypriot nationalist Ersin Tatar, 60, was elected leader of his community on Sunday.

He will now lead the unrecognised ‘Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus,’ after securing 51.74 percent of the vote, pushing out incumbent Mustafa Akinci, a pro-reunification moderate.

"Turkish Cypriots deserve the best of everything. I will keep my promise. I will be the president of everyone," Tatar told supporters in northern Nicosia.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who supported Tatar and has enjoyed a close relationship with the politician, was quick to send his congratulations.

Following the vote, President Nicos Anastasiades, who heads the internationally recognized Greek-Cypriot government in Cyprus, tweeted his desire to meet Tatar.

This result of this election will possibly impact United Nations efforts to push Greek and Turkish Cypriots into settlement negotiations, which stalled three years ago and failed to resume.

For over four decades, Cyprus has been one of the most troublesome problems faced by the United Nations.

Cyprus was divided after an Athens-backed coup took control of the island in 1974; soon after Turkey invaded, and in 1983 Turkish Cypriots established their own state, which is recognized only by Turkey.

Tatar has promised to push for a permanent division of the island with two separate states or connected in a very loose confederation. In early September, Tatar rubber-stamped the reopening of part of Varosha – a seaside resort abandoned by its legal Greek Cypriot inhabitants in 1974 – a move which outraged Greek Cypriots and the international community.

To make matters worse, in recent months, Turkish energy explorations in disputed waters in the eastern Mediterranean have re-ignited tensions with Greece and Cyprus. 

Listen to the report by Nathan Morley
19 October 2020, 14:58